books 

2019.02.11Early in The Empty Throne

The front cover of the book The Empty Throne by Daalder & Lindsay, published by Public Affairs Books.
Image credit: Public Affairs Books


Image credit: Public Affairs Books


I'm only a few pages in, and The Empty Throne has already impressed, with the best description of Trumpism I've read yet. Framed against the rules based new world order the US championed after World War II, and how it is failing to maintain in the context of the 21st century globalization:

The rapid growth in the movement of goods, money, people, and ideas across borders -- globalization, as it came to be called -- produced more problems and at a faster rate than national governments could handle. International institutions seemed stuck in the Cold War, unable to grapple with these new transnational challenges.... American leadership ... hoped to get "responsible stakeholders" [as allies] who would gradually take on more responsibilities while still deferring to Washington's lead. They instead got countries that often preferred free riding on Washington's efforts or championing their own ideas for improvements to the rules-based order.... Donald Trump recognized many of the problems bedeviling America's role in the world.... But unlike all of his predecessors since Truman, he didn't see global leadership as the solution to what ailed America. To the contrary. He saw it as the problem. America's alliance committments had, in his view, required the United States to "pay billions -- hundreds of billions of dollars to supporting other countries that are in theory wealthier than we are." America's trade policies had "de-industrialized America, uprooting our industry, and stripped bare towns like Detroit and Baltimore." ... What Trump was offering was a return to a foreign policy based the logic of competition and domination.... Trump's first year and a half in office sent an unmistakeable message. He had no interest in leading America's friends and allies. He was looking to beat them. His was not a win-win world, but a world of winners and losers.... Trump was comfortable abdicating American leadership because he saw no value in it -- just costs.

I've distilled for you what I found to be the most level and unbiased description of the president's foreign policy I've seen.


My Comment

I find this important and amazing insight, because the president's approach to government seems nearly perfectly reflected in how he operates with politicians over Twitter. He has nothing... presidential... to say to anyone who isn't aboard the Trump Train. All he has for them are insults and threats: techniques of domination.

The book quoted him from, presumably, The Art of the Deal (emphasis mine): "You hear lots of people say that a great deal is when both sides win," [Trump] once wrote. "That is a bunch of crap. In a great deal you win -- not the other side. You crush the opponent and come away with something better for yourself."

On Twitter, almost nightly, Trump caws at any he perceives as an opponent.



"Crooked Hillary" Clinton. "Leakin' James Comey". "Lyin' Ted" Cruz (a fellow Republican, but a political opponent early in the 2012 race). The list goes on. This isn't about competition. Competition does not include ad hominem attacks.

It's about domination. Everything he does is about domination. Why was he so proud to shut down the government for a month? Domination. Why are we headed for another shutdown? Domination. He is incapable of compromise; win-win is anathema. He's wired only for the great deal, and for crushing the opposition.



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2019.02.09Next Read: The Empty Throne by Ivo Daalder and James M. Lindsay

The front cover of the book The Empty Throne by Daalder & Lindsay, published by Public Affairs Books.
Image credit: Public Affairs Books


Image credit: Public Affairs Books


The subtitle drew me to this book: "America's Abdication of Global Leadership."



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2019.01.13Next Read: Proof of Collusion by Seth Abramson

The front cover of the book Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America by Seth Abramson, published by Simon & Schuster.
Image credit: Simon & Schuster


Image credit: Simon & Schuster


One thing I've learned in an annual review of my posts is that I've stepped up my reading game since our country went to shi-- I mean, since the dawn of the current administration.

Today's bookstore impulse buy is Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America, written by Seth Abramson and published by Simon & Schuster in 2018.

As soon as I get this post published, I'm going to curl up with a couple of fingers of bourbon and dive into this book.



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